Best times to travel to and from the airport in NYC

Typical traffic on the Grand Central Parkway /Van Wyck Expressway interchange

Typical traffic on the Grand Central Parkway /Van Wyck Expressway interchange

So traveling around NYC can be one of those things that people dread because of the notorious traffic. But here are some of the best times to travel in order to get to the airport stress free. Please note you should give yourself at least 1 hour prior to your flight for domestic and 2 hours for international to arrive at the airport.  If you have extra luggage, an extra half hour should be added.  

At peak hour traffic, from NYC to LGA can take an hour by car, and JFK/EWR can take 1.5 to even 2 hours!  The peak hours are Monday through Friday 2:00PM to 8:00PM with 3:00pm-7:00PM being the worst.  Now what makes getting to the airport harder is that most cabs end their shifts and have to bring the cab back by 4:00PM-5:00PM for the shift change, so not only will it take long to get the airport, but it will take equally long to find a cab.  And think an on demand app is a solution? It is but at a premium as that's usually the surge time when demand is at it's highest with rates going as high as 3 times the regular rate!

So in order to avoid all this:

  1. Travel early! Get out of town no later than 2PM and you can reach all 3 airports between 30-45 minutes

  2. Travel late, if you're taking a redeye, then you're in luck, airport travel times decrease after 8:00PM.

  3. Travel on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday are pleasant travel days, you may hit a snag due to construction here and there, but nothing compared to the NYC rush hours.

  4. Travel during the AM rush? Yes, but remember, even though it is a hectic time to travel into NYC, getting out is not as hard as you may think, so 7:00AM-9:00AM is not a bad time after all. ALERT: Try to avoid this if you're coming FROM the airports and want to get in to NYC, your best bet is to leave LGA/JFK/EWR by 6AM otherwise it's traffic city. I'm looking at you redeye flyers.

  5. What about PM rush, is this a good time FROM the airports to NYC? It depends. EWR is actually the best bet, LGA is not terrible either but avoid JFK if you can. But if there's accidents and weather issues, then this could also take a while.

  6. Book a car service. You will get a guaranteed ride with enough travel time and at a competitive price no matter what the time of day. Most services are 24/7 so even a 4AM pickup is not a problem for most chauffeured transportation companies. Just do your homework, check reviews and get referred to a company that is known to be reliable at all times. And consult with the car service on pickup times. As to pickups from the airports, most services track flights automatically. In our case, we also track traffic to make it to/from the airport with the least amount of traffic possible.

Tip: If you're riding with us, ask your driver for complimentary wifi and make the commute a productive one :)